The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University works to increase knowledge of the cultures, economies, histories, environment and contemporary affairs of Latin America; to foster cooperation and understanding among the peoples of the Americas; and to contribute to democracy, social progress and sustainable development throughout the hemisphere.
• Expand research and teaching on Latin America and related fields at Harvard University
• Strengthen ties between Harvard and institutions throughout Latin America
• Enhance public understanding of Latin America in the United States and abroad
The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) was founded in 1994 by Neil L. Rudenstine, then University President, and David Rockefeller B.S. '36, LL.D. '69 (honorary), who shared a sense that Harvard should be intellectually poised to respond to real-world changes in the Americas resulting from democratic transitions and economic restructuring. It is one of several inter-faculty initiatives at Harvard overseen by the Office of the Provost, with an administrative home in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
'The Center is anchored in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, but is deliberately University-wide in its reach,' President Rudenstine said at the Center's 1994 inauguration. 'It will be a natural forum for the discussion of public policy, of the arts, and of the ways in which Latin America is related to Iberia and the rest of Europe, the Pacific Rim, and, of course, our own country.'
The Center's structure reflects its inter-disciplinary mandate: the Executive Committee is comprised of twelve senior faculty members from throughout the University. The Policy Committee meets once each term to guide the Center's development and to recommend candidates for the Robert F. Kennedy Visiting Professorship of Latin American Studies to the President of the University.
Since its founding, the Center has overseen the creation of six endowed professorships at Harvard dedicated to the study of Latin America. The Center's Robert F. Kennedy Visiting Professorship program and the Visiting Scholars and Fellows program have enabled the Center to draw leading scholars from Latin America to spend time at Harvard.
While the Center is not a teaching unit of the University, it contributes to the Harvard's teaching mission. The Center supports faculty-directed research projects and academic conferences. It funds students who want to learn more about Latin America through research, work, study, or volunteering in the region. The Center also provides funding to underwrite course-based field trips to Latin America and to develop new courses with Latin American content. In addition, DRCLAS offers several programs in the region for Harvard students during Winter Break and the summer.
DRCLAS has played a critical role in establishing Harvard as a leading United States institution for Latin American studies. In 2000, 2003, and 2006, the U.S. Department of Education recognized Harvard as a National Resource Center for the Study of Latin America by awarding the Center multi-year Title VI grants.
In August 2002, the University established a Regional Office in Santiago, Chile. The office provides support to Harvard faculty and students in the Southern Cone countries of Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, as well as the southern Andean republics of Bolivia and Peru.
In May 2006, the Center launched a Brazil Studies Program, followed by the opening of the Brazil Office in São Paulo, Brazil in June 2006. The joint efforts of Harvard University faculty members and students from diverse disciplines, and support from Jorge Paulo Lemann, enable the Brazil Studies Program to convene experts from the United States and abroad to expand and diversify research and teaching on Brazil at the University.
In May 2013, DRCLAS inaugurated a new Mexico and Central America Office, located in Mexico City. The office provides support to Harvard faculty and students in Mexico and the Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.